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The Committee Against Torture issued recommendations for Poland

Having considered the Polish Government’s report on the implementation of the Convention against Torture, the UN Committee Against Torture issued recommendations for Poland. The CAT recommended, among other things, that Poland introduce a statutory definition of torture, improve detained persons’ access to legal aid, conclude the inquiry into secret CIA prisons and limit the scope of the detention of migrants (also migrant children).

During its latest session, held in late October, the Committee asked the representatives of Poland about such issues as secret CIA prisons in Poland, conditions in penitentiary facilities and guarded centre for foreigners, and cases of abuses of police powers. The HFHR presented to the Committee a comprehensive report with comments to the Government’s position. Amnesty International also submitted a report.

“We are very pleased with the recommendations developed by the Committee. In nearly twenty detailed paragraphs the Committee referred to all key issues relating to the practical implementation of the prohibition of torture in Poland”, says Dr. Adam Bodnar, HFHR Deputy President.

The CAT recommendations focus on the situation in Polish penitentiary facilities, discussing for instance the problem of prison overpopulation. “The Committee repeated its recommendations on overcrowding in prisons and noted that the authorities should spare no effort in establishing a housing standard of four square meters”, says Katarzyna Wiśniewska, HFHR lawyer. “International bodies have been consistent in emphasising that Polish standards were unacceptable”, adds Ms Wiśniewska.

The Committee further referred to the issue of secret CIA prisons in Poland. CAT recommendations are yet another voice from the international community calling to explain Poland’s involvement in cases of human rights violations committed in the course of the war on terror.

“Following the footsteps of the UN Human Rights Committee, UN Human Rights Council and the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, the Committee Against Torture has asked Poland to conclude, as soon as reasonably possible, the ongoing investigation of secret CIA prisons in Poland and hold accountable persons involved in torture and inhuman treatment”, says Draginja Nadazdin, head of Amnesty International Poland. The Committee also called Poland to ensure transparency and inform the public about the progress of the investigation.

A substantial part of the Committee’s recommendations is devoted to the situation of foreigners in Poland. Above all, the CAT underlined that under the current law a foreigner may be expelled from Poland before they can have the appeal examined by an independent body.

“The Committee recommends limiting the detention of foreigners, including children, applying for refugee status, and to provide them with access to free legal aid”, says Karolina Rusiłowicz, a lawyer working with the HFHR. Moreover, the Committee recommends taking any available action to identify and assist refugees who are victims of torture.

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